Andrus on second base: 'Completely weird'

Veteran preparing for new defensive home after 14 seasons at shortstop

February 28th, 2023

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Over his 14 Major League seasons, has never played anywhere but shortstop.

So even in Cactus League action, Andrus felt a bit different playing four innings at second base during a 10-1 White Sox victory over the Mariners on Monday.

“It was completely weird. The weirdest game I’ve played in a while,” said a smiling Andrus, who re-signed with the White Sox on a one-year, $3 million deal after joining the club last August. “Even between innings I was like, ‘What am I doing here?’ But I’ll get used to it for sure.”

Andrus appeared in 43 games for the White Sox in 2022, replacing an injured after being released by Oakland on Aug. 17. General manager Rick Hahn decided soon after Andrus joined the team that his combination of on-field and off-the-field impact was more than enough to merit bringing him back.

But this past offseason represented Andrus’ first foray into free agency. Continuing to play shortstop was his preference, but playing second for the White Sox with Anderson healthy was not a crazy idea.

“For sure, it was in my brain,” Andrus said. “I need a few more games at second, but I feel good. I’ve been working really hard with Eddie Rodriguez, our infield coach.

“I’m not 100% comfortable at second yet. But it was a pretty good first game. I wish I could have had a few ground balls. I was calling for them. But I feel good for the first game.”

There were two chances for Andrus over four innings. He caught a throw from catcher to nail Jarred Kelenic trying to advance to second on a wild pitch to end the third, then he made a diving catch to his left on Cooper Hummel’s line drive to end the fourth.

“With nobody on, it’s pretty simple,” Andrus said. “You see the ball, react to it, anticipate the guy hitting-wise. We know what he’s going to throw, and that helps you a lot to anticipate moving before they hit the ball. With nobody on, I’m very comfortable.

“It’s pretty much with a man on first when I want the ground ball, because I want to make the play so I can make it easy for me. Besides that, last year I played a lot of second base through the shift, so it’s nothing crazy.”

Nonetheless, Andrus is working on angles in his extra work, especially with double plays to the glove side. He wants to get more at ease: When the game started Monday, he had to avoid the urge to run to shortstop.

“No, because I was actually thinking about it,” Andrus said. “I do that more during practice. Like when they say we break, I’ve done it a few times where I break to shortstop. I was like, ‘OK, let me go this way.’ From the game, I’ve got to put it in my head. But it’s been pretty easy.”

No closer at outset
Pedro Grifol, who picked up his first win as White Sox manager, said his team would not open the ‘23 season with a set closer. , one of the top closers in the game, is receiving treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and the White Sox won’t address his playing status until Opening Day at the earliest.

“Absolutely not,” Grifol said. “That’s not how we are going to run it, unless Liam Hendriks is back.”

The White Sox feature successful high-leverage relievers in , , and Joe Kelly, which is good depth to have, per Grifol.

“Opening Day, they are all going to be available. Second day, not all of them will be available. Third day, not all of them are going to be,” Grifol said. “In reality, you need a few of those leverage guys.

“Rare are going to be the days we have them all available. So versatility is really important for us.”

Grifol will let relievers know “pockets” or which part of each game they will work.

López debuts
The right-hander needed 12 pitches to throw a scoreless third inning. He’s ready for more late-inning relief after posting a 2.76 ERA over 61 appearances last season.

“Starting is long, long gone. To be a reliever is like my house right now,” said López, who excelled as a starter in 2018. “It’s more focused than anything.

“Pitch by pitch, hitter by hitter. Try to throw first-pitch strikes, like 60 percent. My focus right now, throw first-pitch strikes. That’s a good thing for a pitcher.”